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Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 

HISTORY OF ELECTRONIC AND COMPUTER MUSIC 

INCL UDING A UTOMA TIC INSTR UMENTS AND COMPOSITION MA CHINES 

1898 Valdemar Poulson (1869-1942) patented his "Telegraphone," the first magnetic recording 

machine. 

1906 Thaddeus Cahill invented the Dynamophone, a machine that produced music by an 

alternating current running dynamos. This was the first additive synthesis device. The 
Dynamophone was also known as the Telharmonium. The instrument weighed over 200 
tons and was designed to transmit sound over telephone wires; however, the wires were 
too delicate for all the signals. You can sort of consider him the 'Father of Muzak.' The 
generators produced pure tones of various frequencies and intensity; volume control 
supplied dynamics. Articles appeared in McClure's Magazine that stated "democracy in 
music... the musician uses keys and stops to build up voices of flute or clarinet, as the 
artist uses his brushes for mixing color to obtain a certain hue... it may revolutionize our 
musical art..." 

1920 v Leon Theremin, Russia, invented the Aetherophone (later called the Theremin or 

Thereminovox). The instrument used 2 vacuum tube oscillators to produce beat notes. 
Musical sounds were created by "heterodyning" from oscillators which varied pitch. A 
circuit was altered by changing the distance between 2 elements. The instrument had a 
radio antenna to control dynamics and a rod sticking out the side that controlled pitch. 
The performer would move his/her hand along the rod to change pitch, while 
simultaneously moving his/her other hand in proximity to the antenna. Many composers 
used this instrument including Varese. 

1922 Darius Milhaud (b. 1892) experimented with vocal transformation by phonograph speed 

changes. 

1926 Jorg Mager built an electronic instrument, the Spharophon. The instrument was first 

presented at the Donaueschingen Festival (Rimsky-Korsakov composed some 
experimental works for this instrument). Mager later developed a Partiturophon and a 
Kaleidophon, both used in theatrical productions. All of these instruments were destroyed 
in W.W.II. 

1928 V Maurice Martenot (b. 1928, France) built the Ondes Martenot (first called the Ondes 

Musicales). The instrument used the same basic idea as the Theremin, but instead of a 
radio antenna, it utilized a moveable electrode was used to produce capacitance variants. 
Performers wore a ring that passed over the keyboard. The instrument used subtractive 
synthesis. Composers such as Honegger, Messiaen, Milhaud, Dutilleux, and Varese all 
composed for the instrument. 

1929 Laurens Hammond (b. 1895, USA), built instruments such as the Hammond Organ, 

Novachord, Solo vox, and reverb devices in the United States. The Hammond Organ used 
91 rotary electromagnetic disk generators driven by a synchronous motor with associated 
gears and tone wheels. It used additive synthesis. 



1 



Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 

1935 Allegemeine Elektrizitats Gesellschaft (AEG), built and demonstrated the first 

Magnetophon (tape recorder). 

1930s Plastic audio tape was developed. 

1941 The Ondioline was built. The Ondioline, a monophonic vacuum tube instrument, 

consisted of a single oscillator and a small eight octave touch sensitive keyboard 
(switchable through six octaves and tuneable via an octave transposer). It was possible to 
create complex waveforms via a series of filters and the sound wave could be shaped 
with the use of a touch wire, effecting the attack with a vertical finger movement or 
adding glissando or modulation by horizontal movement. The overall volume of the 
machine was controlled by a knee lever. 

1944 Percy Grainger and Burnett Cross patented a machine that "freed" music from the 

constraints of conventional tuning systems and rhythmic inadequacies of human 
performers. Mechanical invention for composing "Free Music" used eight oscillators and 
synchronizing equipment in conjunction with photo-sensitive graph paper with the 
intention that the projected notation could be converted into sound. 

1947 Bell Labs developed and produced the solid state transistor. 

The Solovox and the Clavioline were created. The Clavioline was a monophonic, 
portable, battery powered keyboard instrument designed by M. Constant. Martin in 1947 
at Versailles, France. The Clavioline consisted of two units: the keyboard with the actual 
sound producing unit with controls and a box with amplifier and speaker. By using an 
octave transposer switch the single oscillator could be set within a range of five octaves 
(six in the Bode version). The keyboard unit had 18 switches (22 in the Selmer version) 
for controlling timbre ( via a high pass filter and a low pass filter ), octave range and 
attack plus two controls for vibrato speed and intensity, the overall volume was 
controlled by a knee lever. 

The Solovox was designed by Alan Young of the Hammond Organ Co and manufactured 
in the United States between 1940 and 1948. The Hammond Solovox was a monophonic 
keyboard attachment instrument intended to accompany the piano with organ type lead 
voices. The 3 octave short keyed keyboard was stored on a sliding mounting under the 
piano keyboard with a knee operated volume control. On the front of the instrument 
below the keyboard there were a series of large thumb operated buttons for oscillator 
range (switchable +/- 3 octaves: 'soprano 1 , 'contralto', 'tenor' , 'bass'), vibrato, attack time, 
'deep tone', 'full tone', '1st voice', 2nd voice', 'brilliant' and a switch for selecting 
woodwind, string sound or mute. The Solovox was able to create a range of string, 
woodwind and organ type sounds and was widely used in light music of its time. 

1948 Pierre Schaeffer (b. 1910), a sound technician working at Radio-diffusion-Television 

Francaise (RTF) in Paris, produced several short studies in what he called Musique 
concrete. October, 1948, Schaeffer's early studies were broadcast in a "concert of noises." 

1949 v Pierre Schaeffer and engineer Jacques Poullin worked on experiments in sound which 

they titled "Musique concrete." 1949-50 Schaeffer and Henry (1927-96), along with 



Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 

Poullin composed Symphonie pour un homme seul (Symphony for a Man Alone); the 
work actually premiered March 18, 1950. 

Olivier Messiaen composed his Mode de valeurs et ^intensities (Mode of Durations and 
Intensities), a piano composition that "established 'scales' not only of pitch but also of 
duration, loudness, and attack." 

The Melochord was invented by H. Bode- The melochord is a monophonic keyboard 
instrument based on vacuum tube technology in 1947 . The keyboard used pitches 
derived from the traditional equal-tempered 12 note scale with switches extending the 37 
note range from three octaves to seven. A foot pedal allowed overall control of the 
volume and a novel electronically operated envelope shaper could be triggered for each 
key. A later version incorporated two keyboards the second keyboard being able to 
control the timbre of the other, a technique used in later modular type synthesizers. 

1940s The following instruments were built: 

The Electronium Pi (The Electronium was designed by Rene Seybold and manufactured 
by the German company Hohner GmbH in Trossingen, Germany, from 1950 onwards. 
The Electronium was a monophonic electronic instrument resembling an accordion. The 
Electronium had a 41 note keyboard with keys or buttons and 16 'registration tabs', the 
overall volume being controlled by the 'bellows' of the instrument.) 

The Multimonica: The Multimonika was a commercial hybrid electronic/acoustic 
instrument manufactured by the German company, Hohner GmbH and designed by the 
German instrument designer Harald Bode . The Multimonica was a two keyboard 
combination of a wind-blown reed harmonium instrument, controlled by a 41 note lower 
keyboard, and an electronic monophonic sawtoooth generator contolled by the upper 
keyboard. 

The Poly chord organ, the Tuttivox, the Marshall organ, and other small electric organs. 

1951-53 Eimert and Beyer (b. 1901) produced the first compositions using electronically- 

generated pitches. The pieces used a mechanized device that produced melodies based on 
Markov analysis of Stephen Foster tunes. 

1952 The Cologne station of Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk (later Westdeutscher Rundfunk) 

was founded by Herbert Eimert. He was soon joined by Stockhausen, and they set out to 
create what they called Elektronische Musik. 

John Cage's 4 '33" was composed. The composer was trying to liberate the performer and 
the composer from having to make any conscious decisions, therefore, the only sounds in 
this piece are those produce by the audience. 

1953 v Robert Beyer, Werner Meyer-Eppler (b. 1913) and Eimert began experimenting with 

electronically-generated sounds. Eimert and Meyer-Eppler taught at Darmstadt Summer 
School (Germany), and gave presentations in Paris as well. 



Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 



/ 



Louis and Bebe Baron set up a private studio in New York, and provided soundtracks 

for sci-fi films like Forbidden Planet (1956) and Atlantis that used electronic sound 
scores. 



/ 



Otto Luening (b. 1900, USA; d. 1996, USA) and Vladimir Ussachevsky (b. 1911, 

Manchuria; d. 1990, USA) present first concert at the Museum of Modern Art in New 
York, October 28. The program included Ussachevsky's Sonic Contours (created from 
piano recordings), and Luening's Fantasy in Space (using flute recordings). Following the 
concert, they were asked to be on the Today Show with Dave Garroway. Musicians Local 
802 raised a fuss because Luening and Ussachevsky were not members of the musicians' 
union. 

1953-4 Karlheinz Stockhausen (b. 1928) used Helmholtz' research as the basis of his Studie I and 

Studie II. He tried to build increasingly complex synthesized sounds from simple pure 
frequencies (sine waves). 

1954 The Cologne Radio Series "Music of Our Time" (October 19) used only electronically- 

generated sounds by Stockhausen, Eimert, Pousseur, etc. The pieces used strict serial 
techniques. 



/ 



Dripsody was composed by Hugh LeCaine. The single sound source for this concrete 
piece is a drip of water. 

1955 Harry Olson and Belar, both working for RCA, invent the Electronic Music Synthesizer, 

aka the Olson-Belar Sound Synthesizer. This synth used sawtooth waves that were 
filtered for other types of timbres. The user programmed the synthesizer with a 
typewriter-like keyboard that punched commands into a 40-channel paper tape using 
binary code. 

Lejaren Hiller (1924-92) and Leonard Isaacson, from the University of Illinois composed 
the Illiac String Quartet, the first piece of computer-generated music. The piece was so 
named because it used a Univac computer and was composed at the University of Illinois. 

1955-56 Karlheinz Stockhausen composed Gesang der Junglinge. This work used both concrete 

recordings of boys' voices and synthesized sounds. The original version was composed 
for five loudspeakers, but was eventually reduced to four. The text from the Benedicite 
(O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord), which appears in Daniel as the canticle 
sung by the three young Jews consigned to the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar. 

1956 Martin Klein and Douglas Bolitho used a Datatron computer called Push-Button Bertha 

to compose music. This computer was used to compose popular tunes; the tunes were 
derived from random numerical data that was sieved, or mapped, into a preset tonal 
scheme. 

1957 David Seville created the Chipmunks, by playing recordings of human voices at double 

speed. Electronic manipulation was never really used again in rock for about ten years. 



Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 

1958 V Edgard Varese (1883-1965) composed Poeme Electronique for the World's Fair, 

Brussels. The work was composed for the Philips Pavilion, a building designed by the 
famous architect, Le Corbusier who was assisted by Iannis Xenakis (who later became 
well-known as a composer rather than an architect). The work was performed on ca. 425 
loudspeakers, and was accompanied by projected images. This was truly one of the first 
large-scale multimedia productions. 

Iannis Xenakis (b.1922) composed Concret PH. This work was also composed for the 
Brussels World's Fair. It made use of a single sound source: amplified burning charcoal. 

Luciano Berio composed Thema-omaggio a Joyce. The sound source is woman reading 
from Joyce's Ulysses. 

1958-60 V Stockhausen composed Kontakte (Contacts) for four-channel tape. There was a 

second version for piano, percussion and tape. 

1958-9 Mauricio Kagel, an Argentinian composer, composed Transicion II 9 the first piece to call 

for live tape recorder as part of performance. The work was realized in Cologne. Two 
musicians perform on a piano, one in the traditional manner, the other playing on the 
strings and wood. Two other performers use tape recorders so that the work can unites its 
present of live sounds with its future of pre-recorded materials from later on and its past 
of recordings made earlier in the performance. 

Max Mathews, at Bell Labs, began experimenting with computer programs to create 
sound material. Mathews and Joan Miller also at Bell Labs, write MUSIC4, the first 
wide-spread computer sound synthesis program. Versions I through III were 
experimental versions written in assemble language. Music IV and Music V were written 
in FORTRAN. MUSIC4 did not allow reentrant instruments (same instrument becoming 
active again when it is already active), MUSIC5 added this. MUSIC4 required as many 
different instruments as the thickest chord, while MUSIC5 allowed a score to refer to an 
instrument as a template, which could then be called upon as many times as was 
necessary. 

The Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center was formally established. The group 
had applied through the Rockefeller Foundation, and suggested the creation of a 
University Council for Electronic Music. They asked for technical assistants, electronic 
equipment, space and materials available to other composers free of charge. A grant of 
$175,000 over five years was made to Columbia and Princeton Universities. In January, 
1959, under the direction of Luening and Ussachevsky of Columbia, and Milton Babbitt 
and Roger Sessions of Princeton, the Center was formally established. 

The RCA Mark II synthesizer was built at Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center 
(the original version was built for the artificial creation of human speech). The Mark II 
contained oscillators and noise generators. The operator had to give the synthesizer 
instructions on a punched paper roll to control pitch, volume, duration and timbre. The 
synth used a conventional equal-tempered twelve-note scale. 



Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 

1960 Composers of more traditional orchestral music began to rebel. Many composers tried to 

get quasi-electronic sounds out of traditional instruments. Bruno Bartelozzi, wrote new 
book on extended instrumental techniques. 

Morton Subotnick, Pauline Oliveros, and Ramon Sender established the San Francisco 
Tape Music Center. 

John Cage composed Cartridge Music, an indeterminate score for several performers 
applying gramophone cartridges and contact mics to various objects. 

1961 The first electronic music concerts at the Columbia-Princeton Studio were held; the 

music was received with much hostility from other faculty members. 

V Fortran-based Music IV was used in the generation of Bicycle Built for Two 
(Mathews). 

Robert Moog met Herbert Deutsch, and together they created a voltage-controlled 
synthesizer. 

Luciano Berio composed Visage. This radio composition is based on the idea of non- 
verbal communication. There are many word-like passages, but only one word is spoken 
during the entire composition (actually heard twice), parole (Italian for f word f ). Cathy 
Berberian, the composer's wife, was the performer. 

1962 Bell Labs mass produces transistors, professional amplifiers and suppliers. 

PLF 2 was developed by James Tenney. This computer program was used to write Four 
Stochastic Studies, Ergodos and others. 

Iannis Xenakis composed Bohor for eight tracks of sound. 

Milton Babbitt composed Ensembles for Synthesizer (1962-64) at the Columbia- 
Princeton Studio. 



At the University of Illinois, Kenneth Gaburo composed Antiphony III, for chorus and 



tape. 



1963 Lejaren Hiller and Robert Baker composed the Computer Cantata. 

Babbitt composed Philomel at the Columbia-Princeton Studio. The story is about 
Philomel, a woman without a tongue, who is transformed into a nightingale (based on a 
story by Ovid). 

Mario Davidovsky composed Synchronism I for flute and tape. Davidovsky has since 
written many "synchronism" pieces. These works are all written for live instrument(s) 
and tape. They explore the synchronizing of events between the live and tape. 



Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 

1964 The fully developed Moog was released. The modular idea came from the miniaturization 

of electronics. 

Gottfried Michael Koenig used PR-1 (Project 1), a computer program that was written in 
Fortran and implemented on an IBM 7090 computer. The purpose of the program was to 
provide data to calculate structure in musical composition; written to perform algorithmic 
serial operations on incoming data. The second version of PR-1 completed, 1965. 

Karlheinz Stockhausen composed Mikrophonie /, a piece that required six musicians to 
generate. Two performers play a large tam-tam, while two others move microphones 
around the instrument to pick up different timbres, and the final two performers are 
controlling electronic processing. 

Ilhan Mimaroglu, a Turkish- American composer, wrote Bowery Bum. This is a concrete 
composition, and used rubber band as single source. It was based on a painting by 
Dubuffet. 

1965 Karlheinz Stockhausen composed Solo . The composition used a tape recorder with 

moveable heads to redefine variations in delay between recording and playback, live 
manipulation during performance. 

1966 The Moog Quartet offered world-wide concerts of (mainly) parlor music. 

1967 Walter Carlos (later Wendy) composed Switched on Bach using a Moog synthesizer. 

Iannis Xenakis wrote Musiques Formelles (Formalized Music). The first discussion of 
granular synthesis and the clouds and grains of sound is presented in this book. 

Leon Kirschner composed String Quartet No. 3, the first piece with electronics to win the 
Pulitzer Prize. 

Kenneth Gaburo composed Antiphony IV, a work for trombone, piccolo, choir and tape. 

V Morton Subotnick composed Silver Apples of the Moon (title from Yeats), the first 
work commissioned specifically for the recorded medium. 

The Grateful Dead released Anthem of the Sun and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of 
Invention released Uncle Meat. Both albums made extensive use of electronic 
manipulation. 

1968 Lejaren Hiller and John Cage composed HPSCHD. 

1969 Terry Riley composed Rainbow in Curved Air 

late 1960s The Sal-Mar Construction was built. The instrument was named for composer Salvatore 

Martirano and designed by him. The Sal-Mar Construction weighed over fifteen hundred 
pounds and consisted of "analog circuits controlled by internal digital circuits controlled 
by the composer/performer via a touch-control keyboard with 291 touch-sensitive keys." 

7 



Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 

Godfrey Winham and Hubert Howe adapted MUSIC IV for the IBM 7094 as MUSIC4B 
was written in assembly language; MUSIC4BF (a Fortran-language adaptation of 
MUSIC4B, one version was written by Winham, another was written by Howe). 

Music V variants include MUSIC360 and MUSIC 11 for the IBM360 and the PDP11 
computers, these were written by Barry Vercoe, Roger Hale, and Carl Howe at MIT, 
respectively. 

GROOVE was developed by Mathews and F. Richard Moore at Bell Labs, and was used 
to control analog synthesizers. 

1970 Charles Wuorinen composed "Times Encomium," the first Pulitzer Prize winner for 

entirely electronic composition. 

1972 Pink Floyd's album The Dark Side of the Moon was released; it used ensembles of 

synthesizers, also used concrete tracks as interludes between tunes. 

1973 SAWDUST, a language by Herbert Bran, used functions including: ELEMENT, LINK, 

MINGLE, MERGER, VARY, and TURN. 

1974 The Mellotron was built. The instrument was an early sample player that used tape loops. 

There were versions that played string sounds or flute sounds, and the instrument was 
used in movie soundtracks and on recordings. 

1976 Composer Philip Glass collaborated with librettist Robert Wilson on Einstein on the 

Beach. This was a large-scale multimedia f opera f in the minimalist style. 

1977 Systems Concepts Digital Synthesizer (SCDS), built by Peter Samson for CCRMA, 

signal generating and processing elements all executing in parallel, and capable of 
running in real time. There are 256 digital oscillators, 128 signal modifiers (filters, 
reverb, amplitude scalers), a scratch-pad memory for communicating values between 
processing elements, and a large memory for reverberation and table storage. 

1981 Larry Austin composed Canadian Coastlines, a composition that used a land map of 

Canada in order to determine textural, rhythmic, and melodic content. 

Music V variants: newer developments include Cmusic (by F.R. Moore), so named 
because it is written entirely in C programming language. 

1985 HMSL, Hierarchical Music Specification Language was released. The basic organization 

of HMSL is a series of data structures called "morphs" (named for the flexible or 
morphological design of the software). Within the superstructure of these morphs there 
exist other data substructures named shapes, collections, structures, structures, 
productions, jobs, players, and actions. These secondary types of morphs are used to 
control aspects of higher level scheduling and routines. 

Interactor, by Morton Subotnick and Mark Coniglio, was designed specifically for live 
performance and score-following capabilities. 



8 



Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 

1986 Another Music V variant was release—CSound, by Barry Vercoe of MIT. 

Jam Factory written by programmer David Zicarelli. He was trying to create a program 
that would listen to MIDI input and 'improvise 1 immediately at some level of proficiency , 
while allowing (Zicarelli) to improve its ability. 

Joel Chadabe, Offenhartz, Widoff, and Zicarelli began work on an algorithmic program 
that could be used as an improvisation environment. The performer could be seated at the 
computer and shape data in real time by "a set of scroll bars that changed the parameters 
of this algorithm, such as the size of the jump from one note to another, the lowest and 
highest note, etc." The original version was to be named "Maestro," then "RMan" 
(Random Manager), and finally, "M." 

The Max program was written in the C language and was developed at IRC AM by Miller 
Puckette. It was later scheduled for distribution by Intelligent Music (the company that 
also distributed M and Jam Factory), but it was the Opcode company that eventually 
released it. Miller Puckette's original intention was to build a language that could control 
IRCAM's 4X synthesizer, and there was no need for the graphical implementation. The 
graphics were added after a version of Max for Macintosh computer using MIDI was 
proposed. Since 1989, David Zicarelli has updated and expanded the program for the 
Macintosh environment. 

Dolby SR introduced 

R-DAT spec announced 

1987 Apple introduced MacII 

First consumer DAT decks available 

1988 Steve Reich composed Different Trains for string quartet and tape. 

1989 Digidesign introduces Sound Tools 

1990 Sony introduces writeable CD 

1991 Sony develops MiniDisc 

Alesis AD AT introduced 

1992 Sony announces multimedia CD-ROM 
1994 DVD introduced 

1996 first MiniDisc multitracks introduced 

1997 DVD-Audio standard develops 



Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 



Listening Guide 



1. Clara Rockmore playing the Theremin (1920) in Tchaikovsky's Valse Sentimentale 

2. Oliver Messiaen's Oraison for Ondes Martenot (1937). 

3. Etude aux Chemins de Fer- Pierre Schaeffer (1937). 

4. Klangstudie II by Hebert Eimert (1952) 

5 . Low Speed by Otto Lueing (1952) 

6. Dripsody by Hugh Le Caine (1955) 

7. Main title from Forbidden Planet by Louis and Bebe Barron (1956) 

r 

8 . Poem Electronic by Edgard Verese (1958) 

9. Kontakte by Karlhein Stockhausen (1959-60) 

0. Bicycle Built for Two by Max Mathews (1961) 

1. Silver Apples of the Moon by Morton Subotnick (1967) 

2. He Destroyed Her Image by Charles Dodge (1972) 

3. Appalachian Grove I by Laurie Spiegel (1974) 

4. On the Other Ocean by David Behrman (1977) 

5. Six Fantasies on a Poem by Thomas Champion: Her Song by Paul Lansky (1978) 

6. Unfamiliar Wind by Brian Eno (1982) 



Electronic and Computer Music 



History of Electronic Music 



Taken from the web site: http://www.obsolete.com/120_years/ 



120 Years Of Electronic Music Introduction 



This site charts the development of electronic musical instruments from 1870 to 1990. For the purposes 
of this project electronic musical instruments are defined as instruments that synthesise sounds from an 
electronic source. This definition leaves out a whole section of hybrid electronic instruments developed 
at the end of the last century that used electronics to manipulate or amplify sounds and tape recorders/ 
Musique Concrete, it has been decided to leave in some non electronic instruments such as the Futurists 
"Intonarumori" due to their importance in the history of modern music. 

The main focus of the site is on instruments developed from the beginning of the century until the 
1960 f s. The more modern and current Synthesiser companies have been included for the sake of 
'historical completeness' but are already well documented elsewhere on the internet, a comprehensive set 
of links are provided. To browse the site it is recommended that you leave open both windows as the 
main menus page will take time to redraw, clicking on the links on the main menu will open a page in 
the same window. 

f 120 Years Of Electronic Music 1 is an ongoing project and the site will be updated on a regular basis 
(currently v3.0 feb 1998). Most of the sections have been updated in this revision and a links page and 
bibliography have been added. 



? 120 Years Of Electronic Music* A Condensed History 




The Helmoltz Resonator 



Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 



Origins: 

The origins of electronic music can be traced back to the audio analytical work of Hermann Ludwig 
Ferdinand von Helmholtz (1821-1894) the German physicist, mathematician and author of the seminal 
work "SENSATIONS OF TONE: Psychological Basis for Theory of Music" (cl860). Helmholtz built an 
electronically controlled instrument to analyse combinations of tones the "Helmholtz Resonator", using 
electromagnetically vibrating metal tines and glass or metal resonating spheres the machine could be 
used for analysing the constituent tones that create complex natural sounds. Helmholtz was concerned 
solely with the scientific analysis of sound and had no interest in direct musical applications, the 
theoretical musical ideas were provided by Ferruccio Busoni, the Italian composer and pianists who's 
influential essay "Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music" was inspired by accounts of Thaddeus Cahill's 
Telharmonium 1 . 

1870-1915: Early Experiments 

The first electronic instruments built from 1870 to 1915 used a variety of techniques to generate sound: 
the tone wheel (used in the Telharmonium and the Chorelcello)- a rotating metal disk in a magnetic field 
causing variations in an electrical signal, an electronic spark causing direct fluctuations in the air (used 
uniquely in William Duddell's "Singing Arc f in 1899) and Elisha Grey's self vibrating electromagnetic 
circuit in the 'Electronic Telegraph 1 , a spin-off from telephone technology. The tone wheel was to 
survive until the 1950 f s in the Hammond Organ but the experiments with self oscillating circuits and 
electric arcs were discontinued with the development of vacuum tube technology. 

1915-1960: The Vacuum Tube Era. 

The engineer and prolific US inventor Lee De Forest patented the first Vacuum tube or triode in 1906, a 
refinement of John A. Fleming's electronic valve. The Vacuum tube's main use was in radio technology 
but De Forest discovered that it was possible to produce audible sounds from the tubes by a process 
known as heterodyning, twentieth century by radio engineers experimenting with radio vacuum tubes. 
Heterodyning effect is created by two high radio frequency sound waves of similar but varying 
frequency combining and creating a lower audible frequency, equal to the difference between the two 
radio frequencies (approximately 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz). De Forest was one amongst several engineers to 
realise the musical potential of the heterodyning effect and in 1915 created a musical instrument, the 
"Audion Piano" . Other instruments to first exploit the vacuum tube were the Theremin 1 (1917) f Ondes 
Martenof (1928), the f Sph'raphon f (1921) the Tianorad 1 (1926). The Vacuum tube was to remain the 
primary type of audio synthesis until the invention of the integrated circuit in thel960 f s. 

1960-1980: Integrated Circuits. 

Integrated Circuits came into widespread use in the early 1960 f s. Inspired by the writings of the German 
instrument designer Harald Bode, Robert Moog, Donald Buchla and others created a new generation of 
easy to use, reliable and popular electronic instruments. 

1980-present: Digital. 

The next and current generation of electronic instruments were the digital synthesisers of the 1980s. 
These synthesisers were software controlled offering complex control over various forms of synthesis 
previously only available on extremely expensive studio synthesisers. Early models of this generation 
included the Yamaha DX range and the Casio CZ synthesisers. 



Electronic and Computer Music 



History of Electronic Music 



120 Years of Electronic Music 



Electronic Musical Instrument 1870 - 1990 



Instrument 



Inventor 



Country 



Date 








1870 



The Musical Telegraph 


Elisha Grey 


USA 


1876 


The Singing Arc 


William Duddel 


United Kingdom 


1899 


The Telharmonium 


Thaddeus Cahill 

• 

1900 


USA 


1897 


The Choralcello 


Melvin S every 


USA 


1909 


The "Intonarumori" 


Luigi Russolo 


Italy 


1913 


The Audion Piano 


Lee De Forest 


USA 


1915 


The Optophonic Piano 


r 

Vladimir Rossine 


Soviet Union 


1916 


The Theremin 


Leon Termen 

19 2 


Soviet Union 


1917 


e 
The Sph'raphon 

The Staccatone 


Jorg Mager 
Hugo Gernsbak 


Germany 
Germany 


1921 
1923 


The Pianorad 


Hugo Gernsbak 


Germany 


1926 


The Dynaphone 


r 

Rene Bertrand 


France 


1927 


The Celluphone 


Pierre Toulon & Krugg 
Bass 


France 


1927 


The Clavier a Lampes 


A.Givelet & E.Coupleaux 


France 


1927 


The Ondes-Martenot 


Maurice Martenot 


France 


1928 


r 

Piano Radio-Electrique 


A.Givelet & E.Coupleaux 


France 


1929 


The Givelet 


A.Givelet & E.Coupleaux 


France 


1929 


The Sonorous Cross 


Nikolay Obukhov 


France 


1929 


The Hellertion 


B.Helberger & P.Lertes 


Germany 


1929 








1930 






The Trautonium 


Dr Freidrich Trautwein 


Germany 


1930 


r 

The Ondium Pechadre 


H. Pechadre 




France 


1930 


The Rhythmicon 


Henry Cowell & Leon 


USA 


1930 




Termen 








The Theremin Cello 


Leon Termen 




USA 


1930 


The Westinghouse Organ 


R.C.Hitchock 




USA 


1930 


The Sonar 


N.Anan'yev 




Soviet Union 


cl930 


Saraga-Generator 


Wolja Saraga 




Germany 


1931 



Electronic and Computer Music 



History of Electronic Music 



The "Ekvodin" 


Andrei Volodin & 
K.Kovalski 


Soviet Union 


1931 


The Trillion Tone Organ 


A. Lesti & F. Sammis. 


USA 


1931 


The Variophone 


Yevgeny Sholpo 


Soviet Union 


1932 


The Emiriton 


A.Ivanov & A.Rimsky- 
Korsakov 


Soviet Union 


1932 


The Emicon 


N.Langer 


USA 


1932 


The Rangertone Organ 


Richard H.Ranger 


USA 


1932 


L'Orgue des Ondes 


Armand Givelet 


France 


1933 


Syntonic Organ 


I.Eremeef & L.Stokowski 


USA 


1934 


The Polytone Organ 


A. Lesti & F. Sammis 


USA 


1934 


The Hammond Organ 


Laurens Hammond 


USA 


1935 


The Electrochord 


- 


USA 


1936 


The sonotheque 


r 

L. Laval ee 


France 


1936 


The Heliophon 


Bruno Hellberger 


Germany 


1936 


The Grosstonorgel 


Oskar Vierling 


Germany 


1936 


The Welte Licht-Ton-Orgel 


E.Welte 


Germany 


1936 


The Singing Keyboard 


F. Sammis 


USA 


1936 


The Warbo Formant organ 


Harald Bode & C. Warnke 


Germany 


1937 


The Kaleidophon 


Jorg Mager 


Germany 


1939 


The Novachord 


L Hammond & 
C.N.Williams 


USA 


1939 




1940 



The Voder & Vocoder 


Homer Dudley 


USA 


1940 


The Univox 


Univox Co. 


UK 


1940 


The Multimonica 


Harald Bode 


Germany 


1940 


The Pianophon 


- 


- 


1940 


The Ondioline 


Georges Jenny 


France 


1940 


The Solovox 


Hammond Organs 
Company 


USA 


1940 


The Electronic Sackbut 


Hugh Le Caine 


Canada 


1945 


The Tuttivox 


Harald Bode 


USA 


1946 


Hanert Electric Orchestra 


J. Hanert 


USA 


1945 


The Minshall Organ 


- 


USA 


1947 


The Clavioline 


M. Constant Martin 


France 


1947 


The Melochord 


Harald Bode 


Germany 


1947 


The Monochord 


Dr Freidrich Trautwein 


Germany 


1948 


The Free Music Machine 


Percy Grainger & Burnett 
Cross 


USA/Australia 


1948 




1950 



The Electronium Pi 
The Polychord Organ 



Rene Seybold 
Harald Bode 



Germany 
USA 



1950 
1950 



Electronic and Computer Music 



History of Electronic Music 



Dr Kent's Electronic Music 


Dr Earle Kent 




USA 


1951 


Box 








The Clavivox 


Raymond Scott 


USA 


1952 


The RCA Synthesiser I & II 


Harry Olsen & Hebert 
Belar 


USA 


1952 


The Composertron 


Osmond Kendall 


Canada 


1953 


MUSIC I-V Software 


Max Mathews 


USA 


1957 


Oramics 


Daphne Oram 


United Kingdom 


1959 


The Siemens Synthesiser 


H.Klein & W.Schaaf 


Germany 


1959 


The Side Man 


Wurlitzer 

I 

1960 


USA 


1959 


Milan Electronic Music 


director: Luciano Berio 


Italy 


1960 


Studio 








Moog Synthesisers 


Robert Moog 


USA 


1963 


The Mellotron & 


Leslie Bradley 


United Kingdom 


1963 


Chamberlin 








Buchla Synthesisers 


Donald Buchla 


USA 


1963 


The Donca-Matic DA-20 


Keio Corp 


Japan 


1963 


The Synket 


Paul Ketoff 


United Kingdom 


1963 


Tonus/ ARP Synthesisers 


Philip Dodds 


USA 


1964 


PAiA Electronics, Inc 


John Paia Simonton 


USA 


1967 


MUSYS Software 


David Cockrell & Peter 
Grogno 


United Kingdom 


1968 


EMS Synthesisers 


Peter Zinovieff & David 


United Kingdom 


1969 




Cockrell 









1970 



GROOVE System 


Max Mathews 


USA 


1970 


The Optigan 


Mattel Inc. 


USA 


1970 


The Electronium- Scott 


Raymond Scott 


USA 


1970 


Con Brio Synthesisers 


- 


USA 


1971 


Roland Synthesisers 


Roland Corporation 


Japan 


1972 


Maplin Synthesisers 


Trevor G Marshall 


Australia/USA 


1973 


The Synclavier 


New England Digital 
Corporation 


USA 


1975 


Korg Synthesisers 


Korg 


Japan 


1975 


EVI wind instrument 


Nyle Steiner 


USA 


1975 


EDP Wasp 


Chris Hugget 


UK 


1978 


Yamaha Synthesisers 


Yamaha Corp 


Japan 


1976 


PPG Synthesisers 


Wolfgang Palm 


Germany 


1975 


Oberheim Synthesisers 


Thomas Oberheim 


USA 


1978 


Serge Synthesisers 


- 


- 


1979 


The Fairlight CMI 


Peter Vogel & Kim Ryrie 


Australia 


1979 




Electronic and Computer Music 



History of Electronic Music 



1980 



Simmons Drum 


Simmons 


UK 


1980 


Synthesisers 








Casio Synthesisers 


Casio Ltd 


Japan 


1981 


The McLeyvier 


David McLey 


USA 


1981 


Kawai Synthesiser 


Kawai Musical Instrument 
Co 


Japan 


- 


The Emulator 


Emu Systems 


USA 


1981 


Waldorf 




Germany 


- 


Oxford Synthesiser 


Chris Hugget 


United Kingdom 


1983 


Company 








Akai Musical Instruments 


Akai Corporation 


Japan 


1984 


Ensoniq Synthesisers & 


- 


USA 


1985 


Samplers 








Steinberg Software 


Steinberg 


Germany 


- 


GEM Synthesisers 


- 


- 


- 


Crumar Synthesisers 


- 


- 


- 


Kurzweil 


Raymond Kurzweill 


USA/Korea 


1983 


Synthesisers/Samplers 








Sequential Circuits 


- 


USA 


- 


Alesis Corporation 


Keith Barr 


USA 


1984 



1990 



Electronic and Computer Music 



History of Electronic Music 



Musique Concrete 



In 1948 Paris, history was made. Pierre Schaeffer, a French radio broadcaster, working for the 
Radiodiffusion-Television Francaise (RTF), created the first electronic music studio. With a multitude 
of microphones, phonographs, variable speed tape recorders, and sound effect records he created a new 
art form, musique concrete, and with it a world of new music opened up ~ the world of electronic music. 
Schaeffer chose to name his new art musique concrete to differentiate it from normal music, musique 
abstraite. 

Music concrete was recorded directly to tape with real (concrete) sounds, while musique abstraite was 
the traditional way of composing by writing down the score to be played later. 

Music Concrete was based on manipulation of tape. (Although the first research involved phonograph 
records, eventually tape technology became more available, and with it the possibilities of splicing and 
pasting parts together versus a non-re-recordable fixed format). It also concentrated on 'found sounds' or 
natural recordings rather than electronically produced sounds such as synthesizers. 

Pieces that would last only a few minutes could take months of recording, cutting and splicing to create. 
Here are some of the tape techniques used. 

CUTTING and SPLICING TAPE 

Cutting the tape at different angles was used to create different attacks and decays. 












Straight Cut 



Straight Splice 




Diagonal Cut 



Diagonal Splice 




Finished Splice 



Attack and Delay Cuts 



A 


~ --___ 






B 


-^-rT 






C 


-i "---_ 






D 








E 


") 



A. soft attack or decay 

B. combined attack and decay of two sounds 

C. medium attack or decay 

D. hard attack or abrupt finish 

E. softer and less abrupt than D 



Not only did musique concrete composers use the cuts shown above, but they would go so far as to take 
a long horizontal cut , cut it into smaller calculated sizes, and splice the cuts together vertically or at 
different angles! 



Electronic and Computer Music 



History of Electronic Music 



Tape Loops 



Creating a loop consisted of taking tape with recorded material and splicing the ends of the tape to make 
a loop. 



Short loop 



Long loop 



cylindrical object 

i 





ECHO 

Straight line delay: The simplest echo effect can be created by using a 2 channel recorder. The signal is 
recorded, monitored by the playback head, and sent back to the lower track of the record head. At 15 
ips, the delay is around 100 milliseconds. 

Feedback delay: Created by feeding the signal back into the record head of the channel originally 
recorded on. It may involve multiple channels and create a number of repetitions. 

PITCH 

Obviously changing the speed of playback will affect the pitch. Lower pitch if slower, higher if sped up. 
Using 2 decks, pitch changes can be recorded to tape. Early flanging effects were created by lightly 
touching the reel as the track is being bounced to another track. 

BACKWARDS MASKING 

Reversing the reels of recorded material and playing the tape backwards can be used to create reverse 
reverbs, attacks, etc. Recording the reversed track to another tape deck is the easiest way, although 
bouncing the reversed track to an empty track on a multi track can be done. 

Early Tape Decks 

Phonogene 

Schaeffer created the phonogene. With it he was able to transpose a loop in 12 distinct steps from using 
a keyboard (this led to the mellotron keyboard). The keyboard selected one of 12 capstans of different 
diameters, like changing gears on a bike. A 2 speed motor allowed for octave transposition. 

Morphophone 

Used in the Paris studio. It was a specialized loop deck. It had an erase head, record head, and ten 

playback heads with an adjustable filter for each to create special timbre effects. 

The lengths the fathers of electronic music went to create a new sound is amazing. The excitement of 

pushing through new frontiers of sound must have been exhilarating. We take the technologies available 



Electronic and Computer Music History of Electronic Music 

today for granted... and perhaps in the far future, the technologies of today will be looked back on with 
the same amazement. 

The Cologne Studio: 

Birth Place of Elektronische Musik 

The Cologne studio was built from a collaboration of several individuals. Each individual had different 
skills and backgrounds which contributed to the shaping of electronic music principles that grew from 
Cologne. 

In 1948, Dr. Werner Meyer-Eppler, a mathematician, physicist, and director of Phonetics at Bonn 
University, was visited by Homer Dudley, a researcher at Bell Labs. Dudley had brought a brand new 
invention called a vocoder (Voice Operated reCOrDER) which analyzed and synthesized speech. Meyer 
- Eppler was impressed. He made reference to it in an account on the history of electronic instruments 
(Elektrische Klangerzeugung). He demoed a tape of vocoder sounds at a lecture on electronic sound 
production at North- West German Music Academy. In the audience was Robert Beyer from West- 
German Radio. 

Beyer, an inventor and author, was interested in the use of electronic in music production. He and 
Meyer-Eppler joined forces and gave a lecture on f The Sound World of Electronic Music 1 at Darmstadt. 
Beyer concentrated on design and manufacturing of electronic equipment, and Meyer-Eppler 
concentrated on research in speech synthesis. They were joined by composer Herbert Eimert. Eimert 
was a devotee of 12 tone music, and saw the potential of electronic sound in creating pure 12 tone 
compositions, un -encumbered by the acoustic limitations of available instruments. 

In 1950, Harold Bode brought a Melochord, a monophonic wave form generator with a keyboard, for 
them to check out. They used it to produce music by layering tracks of tones. In 1951 they presented 
their results at Darmstadt in a lecture entitled, The possibilities of Electronic Sound Production 1 , Beyer 
wrote a paper on 'Music and Technology', and Eimert discussed 'Music on the borderline'. Schaeffer 
attended the summer program that year and the tension between Music Concrete and Electronic Music 
came to a boil. 

1951. A radio station in Cologne broadcast an evening program called 'the Sound World of Electronic 
Music'. The show featured a forum between Eimert, Beyer, and Meyer- Eppler. The director of the 
station, Fritz Enkel, was impressed and agreed to establish a studio to research electronic music. The 
studio took two years to become fully operational. Eimert was named as the artistic director. 

During the interim that the studio was being constructed, Meyer-Eppler gave a lecture on "The Methods 
of Electronic Tone Generation' to around 2000 technologists in Bonn. The gospel of electronic music 
was spreading. 

In 1952, composer Bruno Maderna produced 'Musica sue due Dimensioni', which featured flute, 
percussion, and taped tones projected through a loud speaker, which was presented at Darmstadt. In the 
audience was Stockhausen as well as other future electronic music composers such as Klebe, Koenig, 
Hambraeus, Goeyvaerts, and others. Stockhausen was also studying with Messian at this time. 



Electronic and Computer Music 



History of Electronic Music 



Ironically, the Maderna piece was not pure electronic as it also featured natural flute and percussive 
instruments, revealing a softening in the hard-line principles of pure electronic music. 
Beyer and Eimert composed the first all-electronic works while the studio was still in construction. 
Klang im unbegrenzten Raum (1951-1952), Klangstudie 1 (1952), and Klangstudie II (1952-1953). 
They were ironically premiered in Paris. 

The studio became partially functional and other composers began to compose. At this time 
Stockhausen became associated with the studio. In 1953 he was appointed to assistant director under 
Eimert. In 1963 he became the sole director until 1978. When he became director, the studio was 
reconstructed to include two production rooms. One for sound and tone generation, and the other for 
recording and playback. Music Concrete and Electronic Music began to merge as in Eimerfs Selecktion 
(1959) in which spoken text was included (although it was manipulated beyond recognition, it still 
involved found sound). 

"The first step to real musical control of nature has been taken by electronic music. Its dependence for 
reproduction on the loudspeaker - which moreover has brought about an as-yet-scarcely-noticed 
subterranean revolution in hearing- at last permits risking the hypothesis that the symphony fixed on 
disk or tape may be the surrogate and electronic music the true music . Here, we may surmise, is the 
point at which the true order of music is revealed." 



Tape Loops 



The tape loop is a loop spliced end to its beginning. The tape must be kept in the proper relationship to 
the heads and cutoff sensor without benefit of the take-up or supply reels. 

Tape Echo 

Tape echo is developed by the distance between the record and play heads on a tape deck. The tape 
must take some time to travel this distance. Therefore, if you are listening to the tape as you are 
recording you hear the recorded sound a little later than the original. 

Multiple echoes are achieved by using a mixer to combine some of the playback signal with whatever is 
being recorded. This is a feedback situation and care must be taken to see that echoes diminuendo as 
they come around rather than build up. 





"'U 



2. 



9 9 o OO q 
o o o o o o o 





At 




O O O O O O O 



right input I left output 



feedback path 
(on patchbay) 



The most interesting applications of tape delay involve processing the feedback signal. This is simple to 
add, merely patch from output to input by way of some processing device. Now whatever that device 
does will be doubled for each echo, often with startling results. I leave the various possibilities to your 
experimentation.